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Teaching and Learning Resources

Using Articles, Chapters, Videos, and Other Library Materials in Online Courses

When identifying articles, chapters, and more to use in your online course (Blackboard, CoursePlus, etc.) please contact the Welch Medical Library Course Reserves.

Using Course Reserves ensures:

  • Copyright: you honor license agreements and use legitimate sources
  • Accessibility: you are using the best links for your course content
  • Access: you are taking advantage of the many Welch Medical Library resources

General Tips for Online Courses

  1. Use only material necessary to the instruction that is taking place
  2. Share the material only with students enrolled in the class (course management systems ensure this through password protection)
  3. Take down material once the course is finished
  4. Link to material if possible, rather than scanning and uploading
  5. Utilize materials provided by the Johns Hopkins Libraries
  6. Use Open Educational Resources (see next tab)  
  7. Refer to Copyright in MOOCs - Copyright guidance about Coursera and other MOOCs, from the JHU Office of the Provost

Fair Use

The use of copyrighted images for educational purposes is often allowed under Fair Use Exemptions to Copyright (U.S. Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107). Generally speaking, using copyrighted images for teaching and education is considered fair use when teaching in person. However, if you would like to post copyright protected images or other copyrighted content in an online course, you must conduct a fair use analysis to determine if the material's use is likely to be fair or unlikely to be fair. Walk through the tabs here to learn more about each factor and to determine whether your use is fair.

Overall, courts return to the same basic question regarding fair use. If the answer to the question below is "yes," then your use is likely to be fair:

Did you use just enough of the content to make your point, and did you transform the content from its original use and/or form to contextualize it within your course?

The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes:

  • Fair use favors using content within a non-profit education setting, but this is only a small part of an overall fair use assessment.

  • Fair use favors using copyrighted material for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. 

  • Fair use favors transformative use where new meaning or context is added. Copying or duplicating copyright protected material weighs heavily against fair use. 

Remember: you must still apply all four factors in your assessment, even if your use meets any or all of the above.

The nature of the copyrighted work:

  • Using unpublished work (letters, manuscripts, etc.) weighs against fair use.

  • Using works that are already commercially available for the educational market weighs against fair use.

  • Fair use favors using factual or non-fiction works over creative works (fiction, art, poetry, etc.).

The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole:

  • The law does not state any exact quantity limits, so using only 10 seconds of a song, e.g., might not be considered fair use.
  • Factoring in the “amount” of a work that will be considered Fair relies on whether or not you are using no more than the material needed to "make your point." You may need the entire work, or you may only need one figure, one passage, or one chapter.
  • Using the "heart of the work" (the conclusion, the major guitar riff, the main journalistic scoop) weighs against fair use.
  • If considering using a photograph or image, fair use favors using a low resolution image.

Source: Columbia's Fair Use Guide.

The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work:

  • If you have the ability to purchase a copy of the material you would like, this weighs against fair use. You must assess whether the material is reasonably available for purchase or to license.

  • Fair use favors using content for research or scholarship purposes.

Transformative use is an important aspect of your assessment. Ask yourself, is the way you’re planning to display or use the item re-contextualizing it for different purposes? If you are transforming the content specifically for public benefit, that heavily favors fair use. Taking something and adding new analysis for teaching, for example, is a great example of a transformative use.

Using Openly Licensed Content

What are Creative Commons licenses? - WURUsing openly licensed content (textbooks, courses, and multimedia, e.g.), like materials with a Creative Commons (CC) license, allows instructors more flexibility in using copyrighted content in courses. The image below breaks down each CC license and the affiliated permissions and restrictions.

See "Open Educational Resources (OER)" to identify openly licensed content by type.

Creative Commons licenses by Foter (CC-BY-SA)